Video Game: Tales from the Borderlands

Welcome (back) to Pandora (again).

Tales from the Borderlands is an episodic Adventure Game by Telltale Games with collaboration from Gearbox Software set in the Borderlands universe, released from 2014-2015.

One is a Hyperion company man looking to claw his way up the corporate ladder. The other is a smooth-talking Pandoran con-artist looking for her next big score. Both hate each other, both are untrustworthy and both are trying to sell their side of the story. Set after the events of Borderlands 2, Tales from the Borderlands is about how a ten-million-dollar deal over a Vault Key sets two bickering protagonists on a journey towards wealth, power and... not dying, hopefully.

The official gameplay trailer can be seen here, along with the announcement trailer.

Episode 1 was released on November 25, 2014. Episode 2 was released on March 17, 2015. Episode 3 was released on June 23rd, 2015. Episode 4 was released on August 18, 2015

Tales from the Borderlands contains examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: Inverted. There is shooting and action but nowhere near as much as in the main games.
  • Action Survivor: In contrast to the usual protagonists of Borderlands games, Rhys and Fiona are explicitly noted to lack the combat skills of Vault Hunters and rely more on their wits.
  • Adaptational Badass: Loaders are much tougher to deal with than bandits in the Borderlands games, but Loader Bot is able to take on a small army of bandits before eventually succumbing, and that's with it stupidly standing there taking lots of hits while it waits for orders.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Brick and Mordecai are certainly more brutal here, but remember, Fiona's telling the story and they captured Athena, who was also her mentor. No wonder she would see them as the bad guys! Additionally, the fight was probably a lot more in Athena's favor than portrayed by Fiona since they drag Athena off more or less just fine in Episode 3, but in the opening of the Pre-Sequel, Brick and Mordecai slowly limp away while leaning on one another after Athena is tied down after Lilith describes Athena having "damn near killed" them.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse: The Purple Skag.
  • Affably Evil: More than a few of the bandits. The mechanic who finds Fiona and Vaughn apologizes for not liking Vaughn's face, admonishes them for being rude to someone they just met (nevermind the fact that he's armed), and then sells them psycho masks for the race.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The loaders have been getting smarter ever since Jack's death. Unfortunately, this basically means they're just smart enough to be confused.
  • And Show It to You: If Rhys opts to "Break his heart" when August starts to walk away from the deal, he walks towards him and proceeds to punch through his chest, ripping out his heart...In his version of the story, anyway.
  • Artificial Limbs: Rhys has a mechanical right arm, apparently of Hyperion make as it has their yellow paint job and flanges on it. For some reason Rhys likes throwing punches with his weak flesh arm instead.
  • A-Team Firing/Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The cast all demonstrate atrocious aim at one point or another. Nicely averted if you have Fiona fire her Derringer either at August or at Felix just before he opens the case. In the former case, she makes a flying leap, twists in mid-air, and manages to shoot August in the hand, causing him to drop his revolver. In the case of Felix, she hits him while falling away in the moving caravan, inflicting a probably-lethal-on-its-own wound in advance of the bomb blast.
  • Attack Drone: The Hyperion Loader bot that Rhys and Vaughn bring with them to Pandora, explicitly for protection.
  • Bad Boss: As Senior-Vice President of Securities Advertisement, Vasquez "promotes" Rhys to Assistant-Vice Janitor and socks him in the face just to add injury to insult (though Rhys can avoid the punch in the face if you agree to go clean up trash because Rhys has "done worse" in his career).
  • Beehive Barrier: The giant chamber that houses the Gortys project uses one of these, which lights up red when the alarm is tripped and the security drones are released.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Zer0 shows up multiple times to either dramatically save the characters or to interrupt tense situations. Athena does this as well.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Zer0 is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice without any visible blood. Of course, it's quickly revealed that it's just his Decepti0n decoy.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Story-driven game or no, this is still Borderlands. Expect pinwheeling limbs and explosions of gore as comedy. Or, for a more specific example, former pinnacle of corporate cleanliness Rhys killing an alpha skag and winding up coated head to foot in its entrails.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: At the start of Episode 2, Fiona is forced to use the body of an Atlas general in order to bypass a retinal scanner. When they can't get him out due to his feet being stuck in his case, she's forced to scoop out his eyeball with a spork, with her accidentally crushing the first one. Later on, they learn that the guy was actually in suspended animation...
  • Brain Uploading: Nakayama created a Jack A.I. to ensure that Handsome Jack would be immortal. A sidequest in The Pre-Sequel patched into the game after the release of the first episode details this process, or at least the early stages of it.
  • Brains and Brawn: August and Vasquez. The roles are inverted, however - August, the ruthless thug, is much smarter and less bloodthirsty than Vasquez, the corporate climber.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Invoked very briefly by Jack in Episode 3, where during a conversation with him he'll point out the "Handsome Jack will remember that" popup in the top left of the screen and ask what it is.
  • Brick Joke: In Episode 1, Rhys practices his game face for his meeting with his boss. The expression you chose will show up in Episode 4 when Rhys disguises himself as Vasquez.
    • In Episode 1, Vasquez reveals that he had Henderson Thrown Out the Airlock and took his job. In Episode 4, Henderson's drifting corpse gets caught in the group's spaceship and makes it go critical.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: The briefcase filled with ten million dollars in cash that Vaughn gets for Rhys to trade with August for the Vault Key. After the Vault Key is revealed as a fake, it gets taken by Bossanova and becomes the MacGuffin of the first episode. It also has a bomb that will explode without Vaughn's biometrics and potentially ends up blown up, taking Felix with it.
  • Call Back: In Episode 1, a billboard for the "Engorge!" male enhancement drug is shown in Hollow Point. In the first Borderlands, Athena encrypted her messages to the Vault Hunters by hiding them in radio commercials for the product. Also, possibly by coincidence, in Episode 2, Athena herself shows up in Hollow Point.
    • In Atlas Mugged, Rhys starts formulating a plan, only to realise everyone has set off ahead of him. Lampshaded when he asks them to stop doing that.
    • Rhys can say something in threatening manner, which will make Vasquez punch him in the face in both episodes. The second time the game lampshade this with the message "Why is it always the face?".
  • Call Forward: In Episode 4, Jack's office has a Conference Call on display which, judging from the combination of parts (Hyperion grip, Torgue stock, Torgue sight), is the same one the Stranger uses.
  • Casting Gag: Once again, Telltale veteran Roger L. Jackson is the voice of an unseen and apparently malicious party known only as The Stranger.
  • Chariot Race: The first episode's climax takes place in one with pairs of motorcycles pulling trucks.
  • City Slicker: When entering Prosperity Junction for the first time, Rhys may be of the Tinhorn variety depending on the player's dialogue choices, while Vaughn is more of a Tenderfoot.
  • Cool Car: Rhys and Vaughn steal Vasquez's car, and it is indeed a nice one.
  • Combination Attack: Rhys has to jailbreak his loader bot into using both its weapons at once when they are surrounded by bandits.
    • Shield + Grenades: Sticks several of its electricity-spewing sticky grenades to its shield, then smashes it into the ground to create a cone of electricity.
    • Shield + Rocket Launcher: Shoots all its remaining rockets straight up, then uses its shield as an umbrella to keep Rhys and Vaughn safe as everything else explodes.
    • Machine gun + Grenades: Sticks its grenades into its cannon, creating a grenade launcher.
    • Machine gun + Rocket Launcher: Rotates in place to do a Death Blossom attack. The robot calls this the "Disproportionate Retribution" mode.
  • The Con: The plot of episode one.
  • Continuity Porn: The game is overflowing with references or assets from the Borderlands series, including audio cues like the whistling of a Hyperion moonshot.
  • Continuity Nod: Each episode so far is filled with references and nods to other Borderlands games.
  • Covered in Gunge: Rhys ends up this way briefly after slicing open an Alpha Skag with Zer0's sword.
  • Credits Gag: The credits for Episode 4, which ends with the Handsome Jack AI uploading himself into Helios and taking it over, start flickering and displaying "Handsome Jack" in place of every name, while a faint Evil Laugh from Jack is heard in the background. They go back to normal before the music starts playing, though.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Considering that Tector and Jimbo Hodunk are alive, the Vault Hunters evidently killed the Zafords at the end of the Clan Wars questline of BL2. Which makes sense, considering how popular the Maggie was in BL2 at launch and how many people sided with the Hodunks to get it (until UVHM came along and everyone really, really needed the Slagga).
  • Cyber Punk: A portion of the first episode is set in cutting-edge Helios, and this game has a ridiculous amount of robots and artifical body parts, but this game currently has the biggest Space Western vibes in the franchise.
  • Dead Guy on Display: There's a dead psycho hung on the Prosperity Junction billboard.
    • The World of Mystery has the corpses of Bewm, Shade, Professor Nakayama and Commandant Steele stuffed and mounted as displays. Shade, however, turns out to be faking it.
  • Death Glare: Pretty much every character gives one at some point. Special mention goes to Athena, though, as her's seems to be her default expression. (And it's a particularly frightening one...)
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Played with humorously. If you die as Rhys, the Stranger will remark "And then you died?" as Rhys tries to explain "Okay, maybe that's not how it went..." and the game goes back to the point in which you last died.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: A strange example, when a Psycho is threatening Vaughn for the theft of his 'doom buggy', Fiona has the opportunity to headbutt him, which almost immediately results in the Psycho joining their race team.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: If you press a button to skip the credits that roll after the end of an episode, a message in the corner of the screen will say "Telltale Games will remember that".
  • Dig Your Own Grave: Vasquez forces Rhys and Vaughn to do this in Episode 2, though it doesn't last long before they escape.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The manner in which the Gortys Project is assembled in the belly of the Old Haven Atlas Facility.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: Rhys' old boss, Henderson, after Vasquez took care of him.
  • Due to the Dead: Despite initial fears of Scooter launching off a satellite would get everyone killed from the bad guys escorting the protagonists, no one declines doing so when suggesting to launch it off in honor of Scooter after his Heroic Sacrifice saved everyone.
  • Dynamic Entry: Rhys and Vaughn and their car get shot onto the surface of Pandora and hit the ground rolling.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Of a sort, Fiona's present-day outfit can be seen unfinished in the caravan.
  • Electronic Eyes: Rhys has one that lets him scan various objects and people.
  • Enhance Button: Parodied in the beginning of Atlas Mugged, in which Sasha's first instinct on seeing the holographic map is to yell "Enhance!" as much as she can, something that Fiona can play along as well. Eventually Vaughn tells them to cut it out and how computers don't work like that.
    • Taken even further in Catch A Ride when escaping the Gortys Project compound. Upon the party's escape on Loader Bot's back, they run into Vallory and her men. Rhys asks Fiona for a plan to deal with it, and one of the options is for her to dumbfoundedly tell Loader Bot "Enhance?!"
    • Played straight in "Escape Plan Bravo", where Rhys is able to enhance a map from his cybernetic arm.
      Sasha: Oh, so you can say it.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: We see what life is like for people who aren't Vault Hunters who wander into Pandora: a ridiculous nightmare of death where everyone in a whole town can go rabid and shooty at a moment's notice. ...Well, okay, life is like that for Vault Hunters too, but at least the Vault Hunters are armed.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Rhys' outfit in the modern day segment is black and golden, similar to Vasquez', compared to the bright blue and green he wears normally. Also, his ECHO-Eye is gold instead of blue, and his cybernetic arm is silver instead of yellow and black. Similarly, Fiona now wears a black version of her outfit with red highlights.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: After the death of Handsome Jack, Hyperion is currently going through this, with Rhys as one of the upstarts looking to be the next Jack.
  • Eye Scream: An early QTE sequence in Atlas Mugged has Fiona digging out the eyeball of a general in order to access a retinal scanner. Not only does she get startled by Rhys screaming, causing her to slip and cut one eye in half, but by the time she succeeds and accesses the retinal scanner, it turns out the general was alive all along, in suspended animation. And he was possibly a last hope for the universe.
  • Expy: General Pollux looks like...Abraham Lincoln. And sounds like him, too.
  • Finger Gun: Hyperion employees love to shoot one another with imaginary guns as some sort of cheesy greeting ritual. It gets taken to ridiculous levels when Rhys ends up having an overblown firefight with the entirety of Accounting with imaginary weapons. Complete with batting back imaginary grenades, using imaginary throwing knives, imaginary reloads and running out of imaginary ammo.
  • Flat "What.": Loader Bot's reaction to Vasquez pulling out a universal remote.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Rhys and Fiona are at least guaranteed to survive the events of the game though they evidently parted on poor terms.
    • No matter what you do in Episode 3, Athena ends up captured by Brick and Mordecai so she can be brought to Sanctuary, thus kicking off the beginning of The Pre-Sequel's intro and end.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The title of the first episode hints at the appearance of Zer0 at around its midpoint and the destruction of the stolen 10 million dollars, which leaves the protagonists completely broke.
    • In "Atlas Mugged", Rhys contacts Yvette, and tells her to help them out. Not long after, Vasquez appears, hinting at Yvette's real motives.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In the credits for Episode 4, Jack briefly hijacks them, replacing all of the people who worked on the game with himself.
    • It may seem to be a sign of Good Bad Bugs, but when Jack held Rhys hostage on his seat, all dialogue options that was meant to respond with Fiona may appear as "Fiona, help!", but two are actually different dialogues.
  • Framing Device: The story is told in flashback, with Rhys and Fiona being interrogated by a masked bandit. If the characters end up dying, the bandit points out that obviously didn't happen and tells you to stop screwing around.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Rhys is hacking the Atlas system to access the elevator, an image of a Crimson Lance Assassin can be seen on one of the screens.
  • First Episode Spoiler: Holo!Jack doesn't show up until the very end of Episode 1. His appearance can be surprising to those not expecting it, but since he's a main cast member it's near impossible to talk about later episodes without mentioning him. After "Atlas Mugged" was released, he was even added to the Steam advertising screenshots.
  • Five-Man Band: The characters end up settling into this by Episode 2.
    • The Hero/The Lancer: Both Rhys and Fiona can fit into either roles depending on the situation.
    • The Big Guy: Loader Bot, as the most combat-capable individual of the group.
    • The Smart Guy: Vaughn, whose primary talent lies in his accounting skills.
    • The Chick: Sasha, who serves as the relative emotional center of the group.
    • Sixth Ranger: Athena in Episode 3, temporarily joining the group to train and mentor them.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Granted the "gameplay" here is a different game entirely, but in Episode 1, a Marauder is seen Dual Wielding Torgue pistols that appear to shoot regular bullets instead of explosive gyrojets. This is extremely evident if you get a Game Over in this scene: Fiona is killed with a Pretty Little Headshot from a Unkempt Harold at point blank range. If that gun worked the way it was supposed to, she'd be missing the entire top half of her body at least.
    • The Stranger's shotgun appears to be the legendary Conference Call. He shoots it into the air and near Fiona and Rhys repeatedly without turning them into swiss cheese.
    • Vallory uses a Bandit rocket launcher, which are supposed to fire three small rockets at the same time, but hers fires one regular-sized rockets like any other brand.
    • Fiona gets hold of a white-rarity Jakobs Scarab, but fires it in a three-round burst, something only Dahl rifles do. Then again, Jakobs is famous for two things: Extremely high damage, and firing as fast as you can click, so Fiona could simply have an incredibly fast trigger finger.
    • The Jakobs Skullmasher in the opening for the first episode works more like a sniper rifle than a sniper rifle that thinks it's a shotgun.
    • The Quick-Change machine somehow charges money.
  • Genre Shift: Rather than being a loot-focused shooter, the game is instead a point and click adventure game.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: How Marcus pitches the game's story to his listeners.
    • It actually goes a little deeper than that since the story is about the Stranger trying to get the entire picture of what happened with the Vault of the Traveler and the Gortys Project from Rhys and Fiona, who are both partially ignorant of their counterpart's side of the tale.
  • Greed: A main theme according to the developers.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Played with. Fiona and Sasha can handily beat (and kill) people with their bare hands better than Rhys, but in terms of weapons, the sisters prefer firearms while Rhys uses a powerful Stun Baton in battle.
  • Helpful Hallucination: The holographic manifestation of Handsome Jack that only Rhys can see ends up helping Rhys throughout Atlas Mugged by upgrading his ECHO eye.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Scooter pulls one off in Episode 4, in order to save the rest of the crew from getting killed by an exploding booster rocket. You can commemorate it, too, by blasting his satellite off into space for all to see.
  • Hero of Another Story: Zer0, while given for being a Previous Player-Character Cameo, also plays this regularly because it is clear he has his own mission he is on that only crosses paths with the point of view characters rather than involving them directly. That is, until you find the Gortys core he was looking for.
    • Zero even gets his Villain Of Another Story, Bossanova, who never directly threatens (or is aware of) Rhys or Fiona at all but is presented as a formidable foe who can blast things to pieces with his chest-mounted soundblaster.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Rhys is stated to be a Jack-lover who want to be just like him both figuratively and literally, to the point that he even looks and acts like him. He even sounds kind of like him, even though he does have a different voice actor.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: As Fiona, it's possible to shoot Felix with the derringer he gave you. It might have even been a fatal wound, were it not for the fact that he blew himself up seconds later.
  • How We Got Here: The framing device of the game revolves around Rhys and Fiona being tied up by a masked individual whose curious to know their story leading up to their capture. Each tell their side of the stories...with a few liberties.
  • I Am What I Am: When Sasha tries to make Rhys feel guilty about working for Hyperion, Rhys can respond that the only thing he has ever wanted to do since he was very young was run a company, and even though Hyperion does some horrible things, they are the biggest, richest and most powerful company around, so he's quite happy working there.
  • Indy Ploy: The gang pulls this off the help of Atlas's statue of its mascot, which is basically a smiling Frank Fontaine Expy holding a giant globe. Said globe falls off, crushes a bandit and smashes the exit open.
  • Infinity–1 Sword: Rhys starts out with a stun baton which is so overpowered all he has to do is tap it against someone to send them flying. The only bandit who gives him any real trouble once he activates it is a heavily-amored Nomad.
    • A large amount of legendary weapons from Borderlands 2 show up, starting with the Stranger's Conference Call, to Loader Bot being armed with Quasar Grenades. None of them really act like what they'd do in Borderlands 2 however.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted for Rhys, who hurts his hand when trying to punch a bandit in the face. It takes him up to Episode 4 for him to realize that he should punch with the robot arm.
  • Jerkass: Standard M.O. for Hyperion suits. With the right dialog choices, you can make Rhys into a proper Jack wannabe.
    • Vasquez is such a jerk, he makes Handsome Jack look like a guy you'd want to have lunch with. Doubly so in that Jack himself thinks Hugo is a douche and despises him.
  • Jump Scare: Shade introduces himself this way twice. He notices that the people he chances upon react to him the way you'd expect.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Felix's death by suitcase bomb, if you don't warn him. Bonus points if you decided to shoot him first with the Derringer he gave you.
    • A minor one, the bandit in the intro scene gets hit by Rhys' car right after he kills someone.
    • Near the beginning of Episode 3, Vasquez get shot dead, leaving a gaping wound in his chest, after he Outlives His Usefulness.
  • Kick the Dog: You have several options to do this, mostly as Rhys. Deciding to order the loader to self-destruct rather than escape is probably the first notable one.
    • As Fiona, there's telling Shade he cannot accompany you, followed by the message: Shade is used to rejection.
  • Klingon Promotion: Vasquez got his position by having his predecessor spaced. Turns out Jack's way of getting Tassiter's job either wasn't an isolated case or inspired those who came after him.
  • Lame Comeback:
    • Rhys has one, when Fiona interrupts his version of events as the Stranger drags him through the desert.
    Fiona: Nice haircut, you lying Hyperion jackass!
    Rhys: It is a nice haircut!
    • Rhys gets another in the climax of "Zer0 Sum" when Vasquez tries to get him to sell out Vaughn, provided you didn't just hang up mid-sentence. In an amusing subversion, Vasquez takes it seriously and replies with a Lame Comeback of his own.
    Vasquez: ...you scratch my nuts, I scratch yours.
    Rhys: Scratch your own nuts!
    Sasha: Really?
    Vasquez: Oh, I'll scratch 'em. I'll scratch 'em HARD!
  • Lighter and Softer: While the Borderlands franchise is already pretty light-hearted, this game has significantly fewer bodies dropping by virtue of not being a shooter (compared to the previous games, where thousands or even millions of bandits and private military soldiers are dead by the end of the game). Also, compared to The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, this is them going back to their more comedic roots.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Episode 2 begins with the group trying to get away from from Moonshots and Rakks. One moonshot hits the caravan and sends Rhys and Vaughn flying out the destroyed back end of it. Fiona tries to grab Rhys by the foot, and if the player succeeds at the quick time event, his shoe slips off in the process. Rhys goes around without his left shoe for the rest of the episode, though he can ask for it back if he talks to the girls at Old Haven.
  • Man Child: Hyperion's entire Accounting Branch. They will use a LARP gunfight when confronting their boss about $10 million transfer.
  • Meaningful Name: Bossa nova is a genre of music. Bossanova is a bandit boss who is also a musician. Whether or not he has a Nova shield equipped is unknown, as is his sucess with the ladies.
  • Mercy Kill: In Episode 4, if you told Fiona and Sasha about Holo-Jack's existence, the former later offers to put a bullet through Rhys' head if his brain gets taken over by Jack.
    • Sadly, should you refuse Jack's offer at the end of the episode, causing him to angrily hijack Rhys' body and take over the system anyway, you get a dialogue option to warn Fiona that Jack's taking over (if you hid Jack's existence, the option is replaced by one merely saying you got caught), only for Jack to force Rhys to tell her that everything is fine.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Vasquez's reaction to Loader Bot flying off with Rhys and Vaughn, when he was in the middle of trying to run them over.
    • Athena also does this after saving Fiona and the gang from Vallory.
    Athena: I am here to help you! You idiots!
  • Mob War: Played for Laughs when Vasquez bumps into the accounting department, and starts a finger gunfight with them. The head accountant speaks and orders his colleagues like a typical 1920s mob boss, and the subsequent epic battle looks quite similar to a typical gangster movie.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Hyperion employees have a habit of "shooting" one another with finger guns. This practice is taken very seriously, and in episode four Rhys escapes from a horde of accountants by fake-mowing them down with mimed weapons in a segment as dramatic as a regular fight.
  • Musical Assassin: Bandit leader Bossanova uses his amplified dubstep music as a weapon.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: In Episode 4, when Fiona and Sasha ask Rhys why he seems so sure his infiltration plan will work, one dialogue option has him respond, "Because we're Team Awesome! And August."
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page.
  • Neck Snap: Sasha does one to a bandit. Rhys attempts to do the same to another bandit and fails hilariously.
  • Nested Story: Marcus sums up the game's narrative as "two unlikely versions of one impossible story" that he is in turn telling to you.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: General Pollux requests that someone unfreeze him from suspended animation, by way of a recorded message. Too bad Fiona only finds this out after having taken a spork to both of his eyes.
  • Nobody Here But Us Stuffed And Displayed Corpses: Including this one of Shade, who is definitely not the least bit insane.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: Fiona's one-bullet gun is hidden in her right sleeve.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: In Episode 4, while playing as Rhys, you finally get the opportunity to tell Fiona and Sasha that you have Handsome Jack in your head. Unfortunately, if you do choose to tell them, it turns out to be a very bad idea, as Fiona and Sasha will get angry, yell at you for not telling them about this earlier, and say they thought you were their friend but now they can't trust you.
    • However, you do get an opportunity to smooth things over with Sasha just before you equip your Vas-guise, and dialogue between the three while on Helios suggests that, ultimately, Rhys' honesty is appreciated.
  • Not So Different: Sasha and Rhys talk for a bit where she asks some Armor Piercing Questions about what it's like to work for a horrible corporation. A few conversation options reveal that the environment may be less dusty but it's now just as much of a shark tank up on Helios as it is down on Pandora.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Vasquez holds Rhys and Vaughn at gunpoint in "Atlas Mugged". Despite constantly insisting that he knows how to fire a gun, it takes him a full three minutes to actually figure out how to get it to work. Rhys can either use this time to escape, or politely disable it for him.
  • Number One Dime: Fiona is given one single, generic bullet at the beginning of her story. In Episode 3, her gun is upgraded and she gets a box of bullets. If she hasn't used it, that one bullet from the beginning becomes her Number One Dime.
  • Oh Crap!: Con woman Fiona very subtly panics when August shoots a man dead in front of her for "dishonesty". Comes complete with a twist on Telltale's familiar dialog pop-up.
    You should remember that.
  • Old Save Bonus: There are various items that can be collected that can carry over into other Borderlands games.
  • Overly Long Gag: Bossanova's reaction to Zer0 stabbing the speaker on his armor.
    Bossanova: I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hate you!!
  • Percussive Maintenance:
    • Jack's Virtual Ghost pops in and out of existence whenever Rhys gets bonked on the head.
    • Rhys can try this on the computer in the bandit base if you choose to "Whack It" instead of "Hack It".
  • Pet the Dog: Rhys and Fiona have quite a few options to show they care, especially to Vaughn, Loader Bot and Sasha. Also, Fiona telling Scooter that he's awesome or letting Shade accompany her. Rhys even has the opportunity with Vasquez, by not using the 'Wallethead' joke against him.
  • Pinky Swear: Sasha and Rhys do one in one of the choices.
  • Power Trio:
    • Rhys, Vaughn, and Yvette, friends and mutual Hyperion wageslaves who work together to try and advance each other's careers.
    • Fiona, Sasha, and Felix, who work together as a team of con-artists to survive on Pandora.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo:
    • Zer0 appears in the first episode, which fittingly is named "Zer0 Sum".
    • Athena shows up in Episode 2, "Atlas Mugged".
    • Brick and Mordecai appear in Episode 3, "Catch a Ride".
  • Prolonged Prologue: Episode 2's opening credits don't show up until about 25 minutes in; an entire quarter of the episode.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Both Rhys and Fiona have their own recounting of the story, each from their own perspective and occasionally conflicting with one another.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: As per Borderlands tradition, changing from episode-to-episode:
    • Zer0 Sum has "Busy Earnin'" by Jungle.
    • Atlas Mugged has "Kiss The Sky" by Shawn Lee.
    • Catch a Ride has "Pieces of the People We Love" by The Rapture.
    • Escape Plan Bravo has To The Top by Twin Shadow.
  • Robot Buddy: The main party has three: Loader Bot, Gortys, and Dumpy. However one of them is optional. Dumpy only joins if Rhys chooses to trust Jack at the end of Episode 2.
  • Rousing Speech: As a Jack-wannabe, this is apparently Rhys's speciality at Hyperion. As such, if the player chooses to "Blow his Mind", Rhys delivers a particularly moving one to August that moves him so much that he simply breaks down crying and just hands over the Key. At least from his perspective. When Fiona tells her version of the same events he just drops to his knees and starts begging.
  • Schedule Slip: invoked Lampshaded at the beginning of Episode 2, when Marcus tells the player to stop complaining about how it's been so long since the last part of the story. Episode 2 came out around four months after Episode 1 was released.
  • Serious Business: Hyperion takes their pretend finger gunfights extremely seriously. To the point that if you refuse to take part or even fail the QTEs, they'll pull out real guns and kill you.
  • Series Establishing Moment: After stealing Vasquez's car and driving off to Pandora, Rhys and Vaughn accidentally run over a passing skag. Unlike how this happens in other games, they draw attention to it and are momentarily freaked out, showing how much this is not a gunplay-based entry.
  • Shout-Out: It is a Borderlands game, after all. Has its own page.
  • Ship Tease: In "Catch a Ride", Rhys has several opportunities to flirt with Sasha, but he's so awkward about it, it's hard to tell if she likes him back.
  • Sibling Team: Fiona and Sasha are sisters who work together in cons.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Fiona's profession pre-game.
  • Space Western: Like all Borderlands games so far, the game continues the theme of a lawless planet where there are plenty of ramshackle towns, roaming bandit armies and hostile environments.
    • Most notably, Rhys and Fiona's new outfits look like something out of the Wild West, with Rhys having a fancy waistcoat and all.
    • Some of August and Vasquez's bandits in Episode 2 actually look like Wild West bandits.
    • So far, this game seems to have the biggest Western vibe out of all others-almost everybody uses Jakobs firearms, Prosperity Junction is very much like a modern Wild West town, Old Haven is a ghost town and Fiona can even purchase a very, very Western-like and much fancier version of her present day outfit that's appropiately named "Steampunk Princess".
  • Spiked Wheels: Many of the vehicles in the first episode chariot race have them.
  • Squee: Rhys may do this a few times towards Zer0.
    Rhys: You're uh... you're really cool. Ah ha ha... I just... I wanted you to know that.
    Zer0: <3
  • Surrounded by Idiots: When the Hyperion Accounting team does a mock gunfight with their boss, The other employees do their best to ignore them.
  • Tall Tale: Both Rhys and Fiona, in reiterating their stories to the mysterious stranger, take liberties before the other calls them out on it.
  • Tattoo as Character Type: Barely noticeable but Rhys has a large Vault Symbol on his chest.
  • Taxidermy Terror: The World of Curiosity Museum is full of creepy stuffed beasts, as well as some creepy stuffed people. And if you've seen what he's done to Oasis, it shouldn't come as too much a surprise who's running it.
  • Tear Off Your Face: In Episode 4, Rhys is witness to the aftermath of the sacred psycho ritual of "Skin Pizza".
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The entire story unfolds this way, switching between the two main protagonists Rhys and Fiona as both tell their sides of the story to a captor, often to humorous effect.
  • Unfolding Plan Montage: Happens when Rhys comes up with a plan to break into the Atlas warehouse. By the time he's done, everyone else has found another way to get in.
    Rhys: My way would have worked...
    • Happens again in Episode 4, only this time the rest of the group agrees to try it out. Apart from a few hiccups in the execution phase, such as Vasquez' body being destroyed by a suicide psycho, the Vas-guise's voice module breaking down mid-infiltration and either Rhys taking over Hyperion or being possessed by Jack just after grabbing the Gortys piece, it works.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Both of the protagonists are not above embellishing or outright making stuff up about the story if they can get away with it, either to stroke their own ego or to humiliate the other. However, anything too outrageous will be pointed out by The Stranger or the other narrator and the story continues.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Rhys can roll, or rather, flop out of the way to avoid being shot by August, only for August to point out that he can aim slightly to the side, while chewing out Rhys at the same time for doing so.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Hyperion employees in the Hub barely pay any attention to the fact that there is a Pandoran with a legendary pistol and an Atlas robot walking around with the new tour guide. Justified, as they are either too busy battling each other in finger gunfights, looking out for Number One and behaving like wannabe Prohibition-era gangsters, in the case of the accounting department.
  • Villains Out Shopping: While there's still plenty of firefights and carnage relating to them to be had, you get to see the bandits of the franchise do other things apart from serving as Vault Hunter cannon fodder, as well as the Hyperion soldiers and Combat Engineers.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Bossanova has a rather nerdy-sounding voice which doesn't suit a huge man leading a group of bandits, which is why he always speaks into a voice-changing microphone.
  • Wacky Racing: Bossanova's bandits engage in Chariot Race-like derbies in a circular track around the top of an old Atlas borehole mine shaft, complete with custom built vehicles smashing into each other.
  • Walk and Talk: Rhys, Vaughn and Yvette do this at the beginning of the game.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Vaughn, of all people, turns out to be surprisingly buff, as seen in episode 2.
  • Wham Shot: Allowing Jack to take control of Rhys's body at the end of episode two results in his Echo eye turning bright gold. The same color it is in the present day.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: If you choose to trust Handsome Jack at the end of Episode 2, Episode 3 will open with everyone (Fiona, the Stranger, and even the narrator) wondering out loud what the hell you were thinking, as he took over your body and made you act like a complete asshole. Jack actually does save the day without killing any of your friends, though he can't resist taking a few potshots at them for the lulz.
  • Weapon of Choice: Well, native Pandorans seem to like using Jakobs pistols or assault rifles, fitting for a Space Western. Bandits, of course, use their trademark guns and Vasquez wields Hyperion weapons. However, native baddies use semiautomatic Dahl repeaters, which are similar to Jakobs revolvers, except they have a bigger clip size and fire slower. Along with that, bad guys tend to use weapons with Torgue barrels, and Hyperion employees/soldiers always wield weapons from the company they work for.
  • World of Snark: Just about everyone has a smartass comment or two to make. Even Loader Bot, if Rhys has him self-destruct, will make snarky passive-aggressive comments during future meetings.
    • In Episode 3, upon meeting Gortys, when she says something nice to Rhys, he actually has to confirm that it's not just her being sarcastic, commenting that it's both weird and refreshing to meet someone on Pandora who's NOT a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Wretched Hive: Helios is pretty much the white collar, passive-aggressive, cloak & dagger counterpart to Pandora as it is filled with "complete assholes" that are all looking to follow Handsome Jack's example and take his place. As well as that, people are willing to do horrible things to native Pandorans to further their own goals, murder high-ranking executives daily so they can climb the ladder quickly and outright bully anyone who's beneath them, plus only caring about themselves, and only themselves.